Yoga for the Parkinson Patient
(From YSN Vol. 6, No. 1 – Feb. 2018)
As I am preparing for the annual Parkinson Optimism Walk and Educational Fair, April 14th, 9-1, I am taken back to my first year of being part of it, where I moved it to Neptune Park, 31st and oceanfront in Virginia Beach, and gave it true exposure, so that awareness of the multiple facets of Parkinson’s could be made known to the public. Few know that there are over 275 possible symptoms, and that exercise is second in importance to the right medication. So where does yoga fit in to this puzzle? It does so, by dealing with the four cardinal symptoms which include balance, slowness of movement, tremors and rigidity. Through the poses we develop balance, and work out the stiffness. Through breathing, meditation, and specific moves, we can slow the tremors and push away depression and anxiety.
The true beauty of yoga is that it is personalized to benefit each individual, within their own ability. Patients are taught that any pain experienced means they have gone too far, and chair yoga is always there for beginners, who are not yet comfortable with floor seating.
The Parkinson patient is starting right where they need to, by doing mild stretches, leading to advanced poses. The nostril breathing technique creates a right vs. left brain balancing, unheard of in other exercise types. The key to benefits achieved comes from diligence. Daily habits become a fixture, with ongoing yoga sessions increasing the difficulty and boosting the repetitions.
I was first diagnosed in 2000, and I credit yoga with a big part of the solution. Dilip Sarkar, MD, who kindly gives his time each month to teaching a movement disorders group. He can be seen at the April 14th event, where he will be doing a joint yoga session with attendees.